The popular Coromandel towns of Whangamata and Whitianga

After leaving Ray’s Rest, we travelled over the hills to spend a few days in Whangamata, as my cousin Dawne and her husband Bob, are holidaying there in the Whangamata Motor Camp.

We join them there.

With our NZMCA discount it’s $18 pp per night.

The camp has a lot of permanent leased sites with caravans, each sporting their own annex, and many with covered decks. My cousins are in one of these, and we have a site just along from them.

It’s also close to the beautiful beach for a morning walk.

Footprints in the sand

We walk round to the estuary and wharf…

And back through town, stopping for coffee of course!

It turns out to be a real family time, as another cousin, Mary, from Thames comes over to visit.

We enjoy Whangamata. Browsing the eclectic mix of shops, walking the beach, and catching up with each other over coffees (and wine 😊).

After three days it’s time to move on to Whitianga, where we are meeting another cousin, Larry, and his wife Leith. They have a motorhome and have travelled up from Taranaki.

One of the things we enjoy most about travelling around is being able to catch up with family and friends.

We stop at Colenso for lunch as it looks interesting and there are lots of cars. Hopefully an indication of good food and coffee.

Beautiful grounds and tables out under the trees…

It’s lovely.

On to Whitianga NZMCA Park. It’s our first time in this relatively new park.

It’s quite a large site, grassed, flat, and not far from town and beach. A great asset to have in this location on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Whitianga is a stunning holiday destination, and growing as a place of permanent residence as well I think. New subdivisions seem to be everywhere, and the whole place seems to have grown since our last visit three years ago, when we spent just a weekend here.

This mural is in the middle of town. With cafes, eateries and fashion and all the usual suspects that make a vibrant town centre, there’s plenty to keep the men occupied while the girls go shopping after the coffee (well, the sales were on 😊) …

The harbour is beautiful with the background of hills and ranges…

This year is the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s arrival in Mercury Bay, and I believe some big celebrations are planned for later this year.

We went to the museum (it’s on the Esplanade in the original 1937 Dairy Factory building,) to learn a little about the history of this area, and discovered that in the 1800s the milling of thousands of kauri trees from the area ensured a constant stream of ships in the harbour to transport the kauri to the rest of the world. It would have been a very busy place.

The museum is well worth a visit, with lots of maritime history relating to James Cook’s Endeavour, Kupe the Polynesian navigator, the sinking of the HMS Buffalo on the beach in 1840, and much more.

This exhibit brought back memories…

It not only shows the school dental clinic of the time but also takes you inside a Primary School classroom of the 1950s.

Being of that era, it did make us chuckle.

Who remembers reciting times tables?

Captain Cook sailed into the Bay in 1769.

We took a drive to Hot Water Beach, Hahei, and Cook’s Beach.

It’s been a long time since we went to Hot Water Beach. It was mid nineties I think. It’s grown up a lot since then.

A beautiful gallery/shop called Moko ArtSpace…

A restaurant/shop called Hotties Beachftont Eatery overlooking the beach, where they invite you to Eat, Shop. Surf…

And everyone has spades to hire for $10 to dig your hole in the sand.

Low tide wasn’t happening for several hours when we were there so we didn’t see the phenomenon of bodies sitting around in holes dug in the sand.

This board explains it… (enlarge to read detail)

The surf was huge when we were there and swimming wasn’t recommended.

From there to Hahei Beach…

Beautiful as always. Hahei is a busy place with little parking in the village, so a parking area for visitors has been opened up just as you approach the small seaside town. With many walking to Cathedral Cove from here, parking can be an issue.

On to Cook’s Beach…

Captain James Cook rounded this point and entered Mercury Bay (originally named Te – Whanganui – a – Hei by Māori) in October 1769…

He established hospitable relations with Māori here, having learned from his experience on the East Coast at Gisborne a few months earlier.

On the way back to Whitianga I snapped a couple of photos of historic Coroglen …

My husband was employed in the dairy industry herd-testing back in the late 1950s here, and has many memories of the area.

On the Saturday evening we met friends of our cousins and all went up to Kuaotunu Beach to Luke’s Kitchen for pizza.

Fantastic place and meal. We didn’t let the lengthy wait for a table deter us and we had a lovely evening.

Thanks for the photo Leith.

Kuaotunu Beach…

The moon over the beach as we left…

We’re moving on to Simpson’s Beach just over the hill from Whitianga in my next post.

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